Making Graphic Design Translation-Proof

October 29th, 2015

Some translation agencies are capable of taking care of the entire production process, ranging from source file preparation through to the final file design in the target language.

Some translation agencies are capable of taking care of the entire production process, ranging from source file preparation through to the final file design in the target language. Perhaps this would be an appropriate time to remind ourselves of some basic guidelines for a design adaptable to any language, thus encouraging communication on a global level.

Some General Tips to Follow –

  • Keep the design simple. Leave enough blank space to allow for at least 30% more text than the original.
  • The fonts used should be simple (or ones commonly used), ensuring compatibility with all the characters in the target language. Should the design include complex fonts, consider substituting the original font for one that includes all the particularities of the target language, like special characters, accents, and so on.
  • Choose graphics that are culturally acceptable for the audience you wish to reach.
  • With the text, you should minimise the number of expressions, clichés, and word play that may not make sense in the target language.
  • Create templates or style sheets for documents whenever possible, and remember to save a copy of the source files. We often find that the DTP Department receives a PDF, but it comes without any source file. This means they must reconstruct the clients’ template from the beginning.
  • Before sending files to be translated, unblock all password protected files.
  • Wherever possible use OpenType fonts. Most PC fonts don’t match fonts available on Mac. Generally, translators work on PCs so the fonts they use might not be available on certain platforms or in certain programs.

We hope the above tips might help you improve on or optimize the process of document globalisation; meaning transmitting an idea or message to the rest of the world, in two or more languages, accurately, and free of historical, geographical, and cultural baggage.

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